A surgeon’s gift

LYN DI CIERO

Professor Piers Yates with his work Crucifix, created from metal tools, equipment and implants used for orthopaedic surgery. 

Leading orthopaedic surgeon Piers Yates has created Crucifix, crafted from welded recycled metal tools, equipment and implants used in orthopaedic surgery, and gifted the work to St John of God Murdoch Hospital. While Yates’ brother, Jolyon Yates is a well established illustrator and cartoonist in the US, creating comics such as Ninjago for LEGO, Piers is at the very beginning of his art journey. He has never sold a work, nor exhibited a body of work, with Crucifix being his first public showing. Yates says he was always going to do something with the disposed implants and instruments he’d collected over the past 20 years. “It was just a matter of deciding what to do with them,” he says. “The first one I made was a three-metre-long dragon. That proved I could do it. Since then I’ve made them as birthday gifts for nurses, one for the orthopaedic ward, and another for my private rooms.” 
 
Ben Edwards, CEO of SGOG Murdoch Hospital, and General Manager of the Mid-West Region, is also St John of of Health Care’s Arts & Health Lead. At a small gathering to unveil Crucifix, Edwards revealed he discovered Yates had been creating sculpture and wanted to display them at the Hospital. “Instead he wanted to create something specific for the Hospital, and a crucifix seemed perfect, capturing the nexus between the Hospital’s Catholic heritage and its medical context in three-dimensional form.” 
 
Crucifix is displayed outside the chapel at the entrance of St John of God Murdoch Hospital. Edwards says it has replaced a more traditional crucifix. “My hope is someone who wouldn’t stop and look before, will stop and look and see how interesting it is, and perhaps explore the chapel, which would be a wonderful thing. I think the work is confronting, particularly if you look at it up close, and personally, I think the best art is the stuff which intrigues you and forces you to think.”
 
Edwards says patients recover faster with art around them, and staff are happier. “Art in hospitals is very important from this point of view. Every day I see people stop and look at the artworks we have here. I often think these people may be on their way to somewhere where they are nervous about what is going to happen to them, and art is a great distractions and engagement for them.” 
 
Meanwhile, word of Yates’ creative output has spread among Hospital staff. “People are giving me more and more raw materials from the operating theatres,” says Yates. “It’s ongoing, so I think I’ll continue to make more.” 
 
Crucifix by Professor Piers Yates is on permanent display at St John of God Murdoch Hospital.  
 
         

Crucifix by Professor Piers Yates. 

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